This cultural biography tells the story of Birmingham World editor Emory O. Jackson. During his 35-year career in Alabama, he waged numerous sustained civil-rights campaigns for the franchise, equal educational opportunities, and justice for the victims of police brutality and bombings. The semiweekly newspaper was central to his advocacy. Jackson wrote editorials and columns that documented injustices and urged legislative and legal action in an effort to secure civil rights for Black Alabamians. His body of work, grounded in protest and passion, was part of the long tradition of the Black Press as an instrument to agitate for social and political change. Jackson also was a frequent speaker at NAACP branches, colleges, and churches. He was known as a commanding, even fiery, speaker who stressed first-class citizenship. Issues explored in the book demonstrate an assertion of constitutional rights in post-World War II America and a remarkable resilience. Editor Emory O. Jackson, the Birmingham World, and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama, 1940-1975 is the first scholarly analysis of his work and as such contributes to scholarship on the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and the nation.
Chapter 7. Continue the Journey of Freedom
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CONTINUE THE JOURNEY OF FREEDOM
The release of the 425-page Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders on March 1, 1968, was big news. A panel chaired by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner had worked for seven months at the behest of President Lyndon Johnson to investigate reasons for urban riots in 1964, ’65, ’66, and most recently in Detroit in July 1967, and make recommendations for strategies and programs to prevent future unrest. The group also was asked to explore what effect the media—television, radio, newspapers—had had on the riots that killed dozens of people and caused millions of dollars in property damage. TV cameras had earlier been blamed for “encouraging social ferment” because publicity of the unrest was thought to attract participants and exacerbate violence. On the other hand, Time noted that televised images of police dogs attacking Negroes in Birmingham in 1963 had “served as a catalyst for the conscience of most of the nation.” The commission concluded that the mass media were indirectly responsible for the rioting that occurred across the country because White journalists had historically “failed to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and the underlying problems of race relations.” In other words, their stories lacked details about institutional and systemic racism that would have contextualized the extreme frustration manifested in the riots. “The communications media, ironically, ← 209 | 210 → have failed to communicate … a feeling for the difficulties and...
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